Big Pharma And Its Allies Will Spread Lies To Oppose Reforms — Here’s What To Look Out For

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Senate Committee on Finance will hold a hearing tomorrow at 10:00 AM ET on the need to pass comprehensive drug pricing reforms, including Medicare negotiation. The hearing, “Prescription Drug Price Inflation: An Urgent Need to Lower Drug Prices in Medicare,” takes place as the Senate considers the drug pricing reforms already passed by the House of Representatives. Opponents of these reforms are expected to shepherd Big Pharma’s talking points with false claims about innovation, access, and Big Pharma’s investment in COVID-19 vaccines. Here’s a roundup of what to look out for, how these reforms will help patients, and the momentum to get it done: 

Big Pharma Fear-Mongering

  1. Innovation Lies: Big Pharma claims that Medicare negotiation will stifle innovation, lead to fewer drugs coming to market, and devastate pharma revenue, jeopardizing jobs and R&D investment.
    • The Truth: The impact on innovation under the BBB provisions would be negligible to non-existent. The CBO score of the BBB provisions found that Americans would forgo just 10 out of 1,300 drugs over the next 30 years — and there’s no indication that any of the drugs lost would be innovative cures, as only 1 in 8 new drugs generates a new therapeutic benefit. The pharmaceutical industry is in no danger of being in financial jeopardy. Large, brand-name drug corporations could lose $1 trillion in sales over a decade and still be the most profitable industry in the United States. 
  2. Access Lies: Big Pharma claims that reforms would reduce access to life-saving drugs and put Washington bureaucrats in between patients and their medications.
    • The Truth: The biggest barrier to patient access is high prices. Right now, 1 in 3 adults do not take their medication as prescribed due to cost, and it is the most common reason given for not filling a prescription. The drug price reforms being considered by the Senate will increase access to drugs and save lives by reducing prices. Right now, pharma CEOs are the ones standing in between patients and their drugs because they are responsible for the high prices that keep medications out of reach.
  3. COVID-19 Lies: Big Pharma claims that reforms would devastate the profits of an industry that just saved us from COVID-19.
    • The Truth: Taxpayers laid the scientific foundation for our most effective COVID-19 vaccines. Drug companies only got involved after the promise of a handsome, risk-free profit. Since the beginning of the pandemic, over $18 billion in public funds has been invested into vaccine candidates, mitigating the financial risk and accelerating development. Pfizer and Moderna are expected to rake in $51 billion from their COVID-19 vaccines in 2022 following record-breaking revenue from Pfizer’s vaccine in 2021. COVID-19 vaccine sales have created nine new billionaires.

How Drug Pricing Reforms Will Help Patients 
The drug price provisions under consideration will, for the first time, authorize Medicare to negotiate prices directly for some of the most expensive prescription medicines; institute a hard cap on out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries and limit copays on insulin for millions of Americans to $35 each month; and limit annual price increases to stop price gouging by drug corporations. 

If the drug pricing crisis goes unaddressed, millions of patients will be denied access to prescriptions they need to survive, and the drug industry will be left with unilateral power to dictate prices for brand-name drugs — something no other nation in the world allows. Without action, we are effectively mandating that American patients continue to pay almost four times what patients in other countries pay for the same brand-name drugs. Acting on reforms is a health equity imperative — non-white patients are disproportionately harmed by rising drug prices.

Momentum To Get It Done
The momentum is here – in his State of the Union address, President Biden called for lowering drug prices as a key part of his plan to lower costs for Americans, and Senator Manchin followed the president’s call by saying he is ready to come to the table and pass drug pricing reforms in a reconciliation bill. The full Democratic caucus has endorsed the deal to lower drug prices. Key members continue to emphasize that lowering drug prices will address high and rising costs and are encouraging the caucus to move forward with the comprehensive drug price provisions, including Medicare negotiation

Rising prices are understandably a top concern for American families. Addressing drug prices will put more money back in the pockets of patients and their loved ones by helping curb inflation. Additionally, lowering drug prices is a top midterm issue for more than 90 percent of voters. If Congress fails to pass reforms, 3 out of 4 voters say it will impact their vote in November. 

The Senate Finance Committee hearing on drug pricing will include witnesses Rena M. Conti, Ph.D., Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Ph.D., Stephen Ezell, and Steffany Stern, M.P.P. Watch tomorrow at 10:00 AM ET here